An anonymous tip claiming missing backpacker Theo Hayez was buried in Bryon Bay bushland has led investigators to a dilapidated squatter house where they found a chilling link to a dead woman named Thea.
A private investigator for the family of Hayez, a Belgian traveller who was 18 years old when he mysteriously vanished in the NSW coastal town two years ago, has probed the online tip for the past 12 months.
The anonymous message was shared to the looking4theo.com website last year.
The tipster claimed to have overheard a conversation at a Byron pub in which two patrons quizzed a man about a missing Belgian backpacker.
‘Quickly I realised that this conversation was in fact becoming an interrogation by two female patrons on another male patron,’ they said, according to the tipster.
‘All I could hear was the females ask him “where is he then? You lot are a bunch of dogs if you don’t tell anyone where he is”.’
An investigation by a celebrated Australian private detective has unearthed new clues in the hunt for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez (left). Investigating the new clues led to an amazing discovery linking the case with the death of the similarly named Thea Liddle, 42 (right)
Pictured: The dilapidated squatter house where investigators probing the disappearance of Theo Hayez found links to a dead woman named Thea
A day later – at the same pub – the same man purportedly dropped a bombshell about the enduring mystery.
‘They decided to hide the body in dense bushland in Byron … I hope this information is useful and no matter the circumstances hope that Theo’s family is given the closure they deserve,’ he said, according to the tipster.
The tip led to another claim that Hayez’s belongings had been dumped at a squatter house in Nimbin, a town famous for hippy culture and marijuana use about 65km from Byron.
Private investigator Ken Gamble, acting pro bono for the Hayez family, tracked down the home and discovered a mysterious link to a woman named Thea Liddle, 42.
Among the rubbish, broken floorboards and smashed glass, Mr Gamble found letters addressed to Ms Liddle, whose skeletal remains were found on Byron Bay’s Tallow Beach Road last July.
According to his Google Maps data, Hayez had visited Tallow Beach shortly after he left Byron Bay nightclub Cheeky Monkeys where he was last seen on May 31, 2019.
Amongst the rubbish, broken floorboards and smashed glass, a private investigator for the Hayez family found letters addressed to Ms Liddle
Pings to his mobile phone revealed Mr Hayez may have gone on to Cape Byron lighthouse (pictured)
Ken Gamble was tipped off that some of Theo Hayez’s possessions had been dumped in an abandoned cottage near the hippy town of Nimbin, close to Byron Bay (pictured here is Theo Hayes with friend Vinciane Delforge)
Thea Liddle (left) disappeared five months later. Her skeletal remains were eventually found nearby at a secluded campsite in bushland off Tallow Beach Road last July. Google Maps data showed Theo Hayez (right) had also gone on to Cosy Corner at Tallow Beach
A few months after Hayez vanished, a cap similar to one he was wearing on the night he was last seen was found in bushland near Tallow Beach.
Ms Liddle, a former microbiologist who became homeless, went missing five months after Hayez’s disappearance.
Mr Gamble’s investigation found Tallow Beach was a reputed hangout for meth and heroin junkies, sparking speculation Hayez may have met his fate there.
The private detective told The Australian he had identified 20 people of interest.
‘These are the kinds of people Theo could have run into if he met with foul play,’ he said.
Mr Hayez, 18, was last seen on CCTV leaving a nightclub at 11pm on May 31, 2019 in the hipster New South Wales beachside hideaway town of Byron Bay (pictured) and was never seen again
A few months later a cap similar to one Mr Hayez was wearing on the night he vanished was found in bushland near Tallow Beach (shown in map above)
‘They’re people who have violent histories and mental health issues and that are homeless, or mix in those circles. They hang out at Tallow Beach and use drugs like ice and heroin.’
But police still believe Hayez most likely slipped on rocks at Cape Byron lighthouse and fell into the sea where he was swept away and drowned.
The Belgian’s father, Laurent Hayez, still hopes to find out exactly what happened to his son when a coronial hearing into the disappearance begins in November.
On the second anniversary of his disappearance, he said: ‘I will be glad to see my Australian family, the incredible community in Byron Bay and, above all, hope that answers will be found to our many remaining questions.’
‘We will never stop looking for our boy’: Broken family of missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez refuse to give up hope of finding him as they share an emotional post on his 20th birthday
Theo Hayez’s family last September shared a touching post to mark the Belgium backpacker’s 20th birthday after he vanished in Byron Bay.
Theo was 18 years old when he was last seen leaving the Cheeky Monkey’s nightclub in the New South Wales tourist town at 11pm on May 31, 2019.
Despite launching a desperate search for the backpacker, Theo’s family have been left without answers over his disappearance.
Theo’s parents Vinciane Delforge and Laurent Hayez said the pain of reaching another milestone without their son was ‘indescribable’ but vowed to continue their search.
Theo Hayez’s family have shared a touching post to mark the Belgium backpacker’s 20th birthday (pictured, left, with his girlfriend)
‘We will never stop looking for our boy and searching for answers,’ they said in a statement reported by the ABC.
Theo’s godfather Jean-Philippe Pector also paid tribute to the missing traveller on his birthday.
Mr Pector hosted the then-teenager at his 22-acre property in Victoria’s Otways for about a month after he landed in Melbourne in November 2018.
‘Today Theo you should be 20. I wish I could say ′′Happy Birthday’,’ Mr Pector wrote on Facebook.
‘It should be a day full of joy, as it has always been since you were born. But now, since you’re not here and we don’t know what happened to you, it’s very difficult to celebrate this day.’
Mr Pector said it was a special day but ‘not so happy’.
Pictured: Theo Hayez’s family pay tribute to the backpacker on his 20th birthday
‘We miss you so much,’ he continued.
‘Today, Theo, we won’t be able to share good times with you, talk to you, hug you and make your wonderful smile shine.
‘But we will nevertheless continue to celebrate you, remembering all the good, unique moments we shared together.
‘You will never leave our hearts, you will always live in us.’
Mr Pector included a series of images with his birthday message, including a picture of him wearing a ‘missing persons’ t-shirt and ‘Theo’ built out of Lego.
Theo’s godfather Jean-Philippe Pector (left) also paid tribute to the missing traveller on his birthday. Mr Pector hosted the then-teenager at his home in the Otways in November 2018
Mr Pector included a series of images with his birthday message, including a picture of him wearing a ‘missing persons’ t-shirt and ‘Theo’ built out of Lego (pictured)
Theo never returned to the hostel where he was staying and it was not until June 6 – a week after he was last seen – that his family in Europe raised the alarm.
His father Laurent flew out to Australia to join other family members, police and local volunteers in the search for his son.
‘When I left Belgium I promised Hayez’s little brother, Lucas, I would bring his brother home, please help me keep my promise to him’, Laurent said on his arrival.
A grey Puma hat similar to the one Theo was wearing when he vanished was found in bushland last July.
Extensive land, air and sea searches failed to find a trace of the teenager and the NSW Police referred Theo’s case to the Coroner a year ago.